BACKGROUND: The objectives of this work were to evaluate the phytomass yield, essential oil (EO) content and EO yield of Mentha spicata L. var. rubra, M. spicata L. var. viridis and Calamintha nepeta Savi in Piedmont (Italy), and to study how postharvest management (hydrodistillation of EO from fresh, dehumidified or oven-dried herbs) can affect the EO content and profile of the three species.
RESULTS: Mentha spicata L. var. rubra gave the greatest phytomass yield (1997 g m−2), which was statistically different from M. spicata L. var. viridis and C. nepeta. The highest EO yield was obtained from C. nepeta (3.75 g m−2), which was significantly different from the Mentha genus. Postharvest management significantly affected both the EO content and the EO profile of each species, with the dehumidifying process leading to a significantly higher EO content than the oven-drying process. The EO profile was different not only from species to species but also because of the postharvest management.
CONCLUSION: The dehumidifying process is a relatively new postharvest technology that has shown positive results in terms of EO yield, and it can be applied to species which have a high EO value, after evaluation of the resulting EO profile. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry